With a plethora of nonprofit and charitable organizations that exist today, how will you know which ones are creating an impact for those they help? Is there a way to know which programs actually work and are making a meaningful difference in the lives of some of the poorest people in the world? What does it cost to improve the standard of living of a family? How about transforming a community? Can a dollar even make a difference?
Our guest, Dr. Ravi Jayakaran of Medical Ambassadors, will help us answer these questions and more in today’s episode. With vast experience leading international poverty reduction programs, Dr. Ravi takes us into the workings of impactful participatory development programs that integrate the social, economic, cultural, and spiritual upliftment of individuals and families, and the transformation of communities. Listen and be inspired by Dr. Ravi’s stories while learning how you can become a better, smarter giver.
Key Points From This Episode:
“At those crucial stages in our life when God brings transformation, it also means a new direction.“
“Anyone partnering with us, that's what they're investing in, seeing the kingdom come into individuals, into families and into a whole village.”
“Sometimes, we can go, sometimes we can give but all the time we can pray.”
“The safest way to make your money secure is to invest it in God's kingdom.
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Medical Ambassadors International
Dr. Ravi Jayakaran on LinkedIn
Click to Find out more about our upcoming event: "Crafting Your Kingdom Investing Thesis"
About Dr. Ravi Jayakaran
Dr. Ravi I. Jayakaran is the President of Medical Ambassadors International. He is a committed Christian leader with well over three decades of experience leading international poverty reduction and strategic development programs. He is the Catalyst for Integral Missions for the Lausanne Movement. Dr. Jayakaran has worked in senior management positions in the corporate sector, international NGOs, the Asian Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in SE Asia.
Dr. Jayakaran has lived and worked long-term in India, Cambodia, China and the US and provided technical support in more than 23 countries on issues of Transformational Development, Integral Mission, Relief & Development, Participatory Poverty alleviation and development, Public Health, and prevention of trafficking. Besides the Accord Network board, Ravi serves as a member of the board of directors on several other boards, including the Chalmers Center, Manyata Ministries, and Forward Edge International. Ravi and his wife Vimla live in Ripon, California. They have two grown-up sons who know and love the Lord, and are married and have families of their own.
ANNOUNCER: Imagine taking your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives, and leaving a godly legacy for generations to come. Get ideas and strategies to do just that when you listen to these personal stories from high-level Kingdom champions.
The Kingdom Investor Podcast showcases business leaders who have moved from success to significance, sharing how they use worldly wealth for Kingdom impact. Discover how they grew in generosity, impacted more lives, and built godly legacies. You'll find motivation, inspiration, and practical steps to grow as a Kingdom Investor.
Daniel White (DW): Welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. I'm your host Daniel White. Today we get to hear an incredible story of how God has used Dr. Ravi Jayakaran to impact millions of people and thousands of communities around the world. Ravi is the president of Medical Ambassadors International, a ministry that builds relationships with the world's most vulnerable communities. And together with local leaders, they work together for both physical and spiritual healing through holistic community development and education.
If you've enjoyed listening to the kingdom investor podcast, please give us a review. Connect with us on social media, and share with your friends. Without further ado, let's get right into the show.
DW: Hello and welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. This is your host Daniel White and today, I have Ravi and David with me in the studio. Ravi, would you say hello?
Ravi Jayakaran (RJ): Hi, everyone. Welcome to this podcast.
DW: David, do you want to say hey?
David Clinton (DC): Hello, everybody. It's a great day looking forward to this conversation with Ravi.
DW: Ravi, would you share just a little bit about yourself and where you're coming from?
RJ: So, I'm Ravi Jayakaran. I, obviously, come from India. But my wife and I are US citizens and we live here in Ripon, California. And we came, I mean, got started off in ministry years ago, of course, in India, the western part of India. Then went to the eastern part, then to the south, then again to the western part of India. And then God took us to Cambodia. And from Cambodia, it took us to China, brought us back to Cambodia. And then from Cambodia, we came to the US, also kind of a circuitous route. We came in first into Atlanta, and then moved to Texas and from Texas, we came here to California. Medical Ambassadors was looking for a president in 2017. And they invited me to come and take over as president. So that's, that's kind of a quick snapshot journey that we've had.
DW: So, you're a world traveler, you've been all over the place.
RJ: Yes. Kind of. Yes.
DW: Wow. That's, that's really fascinating. And I'm excited to hear your story. But before we get into that, do you mind praying for our listeners?
RJ: Sure, sure. Father, God, we praise and thank you for this opportunity to connect up through the airwaves and also on media in case some are watching on YouTube. I pray, Lord, for Your presence with us, that you will guide this conversation that I have, and whatever I share will be something that's acceptable in your sight. Thank you, Lord, for who you are to Vimla and me, and for the ways in which you have so clearly intervened in our lives. We praise you and thank you. And I pray, Lord, that through my sharing, if there are those that are listening would be challenged to do likewise, that would be so awesome. Lord, speak to our hearts, prepare our hearts and our minds, to hear what you have to say because you are a God who makes his will known very clearly to those that seek to know it. And whenever there is a delay, it's always because we really, truly didn't want to know what you wanted us to know. So, Father, just take complete control of this time. Make it a time of blessing. We pray in the mighty and exalted name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
DC: Amen. Thank you so much, Ravi.
DW: Ravi, would you tell us your story and your testimony?
RJ: Yeah, my testimony really starts with my granddad because it was because of the step that he took that generations after him, came and had access to the gospel of Jesus. But also were freed from some of the things that were part of their lives. And so it all started with my grandfather who was a Hindu leader, he was a teacher of the Scriptures, the Indian scriptures, the Hindu scriptures. And he was pretty much engaged in that. He was the only son, he was in his early 20s. My great-grandfather belonged to a group called the chakyars and I was quite interested to find out that there is still one of the unreached people groups that various groups are trying to make sure that they get to know the gospel.
So grandpa was studying the Hindu scriptures and one day a friend of his came running to him and he said to him, Deva Sigamani, because that was his name, Deva Sigamani Venkatachalam Chakyar Jayakaran, and we dropped all the first part, kept only the last part, which is still kind of long. And he said, there is a person here who's talking about God, but it doesn't seem to be one of our gods, it seems to be the English God. And if you remember, in those days, India was under British rule. That's why all references to Jesus were the English God, or the God of the English people. And so grandpa went to listen and long story short, his heart was just pierced by the gospel as he listened. But he still had some questions. And so he asked the person who was preaching, and the person said, I don't know. But I can take you to someone who does know. I'm just a recent follower of Christ. And so he took him to the person who had led him to the Lord. And grandpa spent the whole day with them, and ended up buying a Bible, a full huge Bible, it used to be in those days. I don't know if he bought it or it was donated to him but he brought it home. And he tried to take it inside the house and my great granddad saw it. And he said, why have brought that book? Because there were two things about it, the outside cover was black. And the side paper was red color. So these two colors were not auspicious colors to them. And he said, why have you brought this and he said, they are going to study it. And he said, yes, study it, study it to confound it. Because I see many people becoming followers of the English God.
And so grandpa had all these books open. One day, his own scriptures, and one, the Bible and he started comparing it. And after some time, he just shattered his own scriptures, because he got all the answers in the Bible. And somewhere along this way, he trusted Christ, and He gave his life to the Lord, all on his own. Nobody leading him in this process. He was engaging with the Bible, learning more, finding out all of it, just devouring it. And they were from a very well-off family, so he could be goofing off, doing that, doing nothing else. He was going to be inheriting all of that wealth from the family. And these people could trace their ancestors 3000 years. They never married out. They did that to keep the wealth in the family. So here was grandpa reading and reading and devouring it. And my great-granddad noticed and he said, listen, I told you to read it, to confound it. But I see that you're not even reading our own scriptures. At this rate, you're going to go and get baptized. Turned out to be just a memory jogger he needed because he started searching about baptism. And sure enough, he found, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized, you and your family and you will be saved."
And so he was just excited. And he studied it. And he said, but what's my dad gonna say? And then he came across the words that said, "Fear God rather than man" so he was bold enough to go one day and tell his dad I'm gonna get baptized, and my great granddad told my granddad, I told you the cost of that. If you get baptized, we will cut you off, we will have no dealings with you, we will consider that our son, our only son is dead. But Grandpa went and got baptized. When he came back, all the servants in the house was sitting outside, and their hands on their head, which was like someone in the family is dead. So that's the symbol. And so Grandpa asked them, who died, and they said, you, you died. And that was it. They had not only taken all his belongings and burned it on the pyre, the funeral pyre and taken the ash and put it into a flowing river, son is dead. But they also shaved their heads and had 13 days of mourning. My great-granddad made a statement that before the 13 days are over, he's going to come back begging us to receive him and renounce this new faith of his because he'll realize the cost of what has happened. But Grandpa never went back. And praise God, he never went back because generations after him were freed from the bondage to those spirits and non-deist gods. And they were liberated for when the Son sets you free, you're free indeed. And they had freedom in Christ.
And that's how he raised his children. And that's how dad raised us. But strangely enough, you know, he followed the behavior that his own, he had seen modeled to him, where the husband doesn't do anything related to, you know, household stuff just takes care of business and earnings, and is the head of the family. So, he raised his kids left to either go to, you know, boarding school, and so on. So my dad grew up as a nominal Christian, in spite of having a father who was such a fantastic, you know, Christian, dramatic, dramatic change in his life. So, my dad raised us in that way. We had to go to church on Sunday, and he was in the army. So we went to the containment area. In India would be a place where the military was, and there was always a garrison church, because the British had it. And it was a high church. So that's where we went. I had never heard in the years that I've been to church, that I needed to be born again. So, I grew up, I knew that there was a God up there somewhere. But he has got nothing to do with me. You know, he minds his own business, I mind my own business. When I'm having trouble, I come and ask him and if I'm lucky enough, he will do something for me. That was my relationship.
When I was in my junior year in the university, studying veterinary medicine that I was invited to go for a youth camp. And at the youth camp for the first time in my life, I heard you must be born again. And I thought, this is a cult. This can't be true. This is not anywhere in the scriptures. I've never heard it before. So I remembered that my mum had given me a Bible and I had never opened it. It was nicely zipped up, a nice, beautiful white leather-covered Bible with gold letters saying Holy Bible. And I had taken it along with me to impress people, you know, at this youth camp. So, I would hold it like that, so they could see Holy Bible. I took this Bible out, and I went to the index. And every time they gave a reference, I would find it, go to the page and read it. And what I discovered was not just you must be born again. But unless you're born again, you cannot even see the kingdom of God.
RJ: And I underlined it and underlined a whole lot of things there. And God started speaking to my heart, he really pierced my heart. That's like he did for my granddad. He opened up my heart, and I've everything I was arguing in my mind. I've never heard this. I've never heard this. And then I said, okay, so these guys are a cult. It's not the truth. I'm right, they are wrong. And by around the third day, I had a doubt. What if they are right, then I'm terribly wrong. So, that morning, it was the 26th of October 1974, I just got up that morning. And I said, Lord, God, whoever you are, I know you as Jesus but here's my prayer. If I haven't gone too far from you give me another chance and speak to my heart. And he spoke so powerfully, every message was like, it's made only for me. God was speaking to my heart. By that evening, I could bear it no more. I just prayed, you know, just put my head down. And I prayed.
And I said, I need a second chance. Give me a second chance. And the speaker just stopped and he said, let's stop and pray. We can continue tomorrow. And is there anyone here in this group that doesn't know Jesus? Will you raise your hand? I had both my hands up. And he said, both your hands, brother? You can stop waving it, I can see you. And I was worried because the message was so powerful. I thought, all the 40 or 50 people who are there would have been convicted. And so I didn't want to be missed in this, you know, that they might, I don't know what's gonna happen, I need this chance. Turned out, I was the only one who responded that night. Later, other people responded, but that was two days later. But that day, I surrendered my life to Christ. And somewhere around seven, eight o'clock in the evening, I was born again. I wept, as God showed me how I had turned away from him. And he transformed my life and some habits just fell off. Some took some time. But I knew that I had been turned inside out and transformed. And my life would never be the same again. And repeatedly, I said to him, whatever you say, I'm now so close to graduating, but whatever you say, I will do.
And he allowed me to continue my studies. I did well, graduated, went on for an internship, joined the organization which was headed by one of Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's right-hand man. This person was in his 20s when Gandhi was in his 80s. I was born after Gandhi died so I would never have met him but Dr. Desai, who was Gandhi's right-hand man was my boss. And a long story even how I started working with him but we won't go into that now. I joined him and he would share with us all the things that were being done. So I got trained, I became a doctor of veterinary medicine, specialized in dairy cattle production. So, all things cattle, breeding, disease, surgeries, and all kinds of strategies. At that time, India was number five in world milk production. And this project that launched and spread all over India. Today, India is number one in milk production. US is behind India. And of course, we have a bigger population, five times the population of the US. So there's a lot of scope for milk over there. A lot of people drink milk. It's not uncommon for a person to drink a quarter of a gallon of milk every day in a family even in medium, in low middle-class homes would do that.
So I grew up becoming an expert in dairy cattle production. So, that was what I was doing. And, you know, I started working and God took me from one secular job from the western part of India to the eastern part of India, to one of the most difficult and hard to work in states; it was called the state of Bihar. This is before it was separated into two states, one called Bihar and one called Jharkhand. We were in the Jharkhand part of it, a lot of turbulence in that area. And I chose to work there and I was excited, excited to work because I was bringing all this knowledge on dairy cattle production to one of the poorest states and going to help them. I had clear indications from God that that's what he wanted me to do. So that's where I was. And as I started on one particular day, I wish I had noted when it was. It was somewhere in the early 80s, early 80s or so. I had learned the local language, I had the gift of learning languages. I could speak seven languages at one point in time. Now I'm losing some of those.
On one particular occasion, I had learned this tribal language, and including the accents that the way the local people gave it in the house. I gave this fantastic lecture about how they could bring transformation into that whole community and see animal husbandry make a big difference. And then after I gave my lecture, I told my assistant to answer the questions that they have. You've heard me give the answers. So this is your chance. He had on his, you know, doctors court, and he's sort of answering things there, I sat under a tree and started fanning myself from being all excited in speaking. This old man comes up to me, and he says, hey, why do you talk, like all our problems can be solved through animal husbandry? That was a given for me. And then I smelled his breath he had been drinking. That's why he came. And I was just asking myself, did he have the courage to come and sit with me only because he was a drunk? Did I make myself elusive towards these people? What was happening? And then I heard what he said. And I said, so if it's not animal husbandry then what is the biggest need of the communities here? Your village, neighboring village, what is the biggest need?
And he said, we need water. Get us water somehow and we will do agriculture, animal husbandry, we'll take care of animals, we'll take care of everything. We just need water. This is a place where it's so dry. And I was saying to him, I was just thinking, I don't know anything about how to get underground water. I don't know how to dig a well, I have no idea of, you know, hydrogeology and all of that. Because I was raised in a city I had never seen that kind of work. So, I replied to him, I said, I know nothing about water. So he's got one hand on my shoulders as he's talking, he puts his other hand on the other shoulder and he shakes me. And I get this full blast off his alcohol fumes. And then he takes off his hand and he points at me and he says, then you are no use to us.
Boy, my life was shattered. And I was thinking here I am taking my family to the most risky place in the country. And in obedience to God, and here's his guide telling me, I'm no use to them. I was at the peak of my career, people will, you know, come to listen to me, coming to ask me for advice. You know, bringing the animals for surgery and all that stuff. And this guy says this. I went back to the office, and told my boss. I was the head of the animal husbandry program, obviously, which is why I was always talking about that. I said, I'm going home. I'm not well. I went home and I was on my knees and saying, God, you need to do something about this man. How dare he do this to your child? Here I've sacrificed everything to come. And then, as always happens when you're moping and groping, there's silence. So I groped and moped a little bit more and then I almost heard God speak in my soul. He said, are you done?
RJ: Like, what? And then he said, If you don't know anything about water, maybe you can learn from anyone. And if you don't know anything at all, then you can learn from anybody who knows even a little bit. And it was like a eureka moment and just almost jumped up and said, wow, that's it. I can learn from everyone and I'm thinking of all the people who could tell me and then there's a knock on the door. I was inside my house and my wife and the kids were in school. So I was alone to mope and grope. Then I heard this knock and opened the door and who should be there. It's the head of Catholic Charities, Bro. Mark who knew everything about wells. I'm like, wow, this is too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. This guy, God has sent this guy. And he wanted some help. He said, I'm bringing all my district heads. And I need you to spend the word I want them to spend a week with you, but teach them everything you can and motivate them to be involved with animal husbandry. And I said, it's going to cost you. He said, yeah, I'll pay for it. I said, no, not in cash. I will teach them all I need to do and motivate them. But I want you to teach me everything you know about water. And he put his hand out in front of him, I remember that. And he said, I know water like the back of my hand. And which was true, because he had been responsible for overseeing projects for over 20,000 wells in that whole region. 20-25,000 wells. So he taught me everything about hydrogeology, and so on. And that was such a clear lesson, that when I thought this is the way to do it, and bring prosperity to the region, God had a different plan. The first one, I knew exactly what to do. And the second one, I had no knowledge about it, and had to depend completely on him. And that's how it started. So it started with water. We started making wells, we started meeting with people, we started using that water for agriculture, for animal husbandry, we started using it for various things, small vegetable cultivation plots. And it started changing the whole region completely.
DC: Amazing! And to God goes the glory.
RJ: Amen. Amen. And I remember sitting on a little hillock and watching all these activities, they were making rings for the wells, concrete ring wells, there were all agriculture stuff going. There had been people who had migrated to the city, they came back. They said, we don't want to live a life there in the city, in the slum, and eking out a living. We want to be with our families making a difference. So they came back. And so started this whole thing is like, oh, there's so much, I don't know. And then as it, okay, since I don't know, I can learn from anybody. So I started learning first from the villagers, and then they would tell me, this is all we know. Then I would start looking for experts in those fields.
And what I discovered was a practice called participatory development where you listen, and in dialogue, you learn. And then I said, Lord, I wasn't trained as a social development specialist. Will you help me find someone who can train me on how to do social development? Because I'm a very technical person, you know, top-down kind of training? Can I have some training like that? And then he brings the world's expert, Dr. Robert Chambers who's the world's expert in participatory development. He is known as the father of PRA, Participatory Rural Appraisal, and participatory role, learning in action. Globally recognized person, He brought him in connection with me, I attended a workshop with him, learned and then, for 30, 35 years now, we've been good friends, and learned a lot from Robert, on participatory approaches. So, that was a change in me. But God kept me going. So, I was back in this place, from being animal husbandry head, my bosses saw the impact of what I was doing. And they said, hey, we want you to be the head of this organization.
DC: How long ago was this? About how old were you?
RJ: I was in my late 20s, early 30s, and then I became the head of the whole institution, the chief administrator, and overall-in-charge of everything. So, I was now heading a program of all kinds of things. So, agriculture, animal husbandry, cottage industries, education, human health, the whole range of things. And it was really integrated. I could see the integration. So, it's almost like God was just saying, okay, look at that. What do you understand? What do you understand? And it was a mix of indigenous knowledge from the community plus technical knowledge from the experts. And because some ideas were new to me, I was open completely to listen to people. I would just sit, like a sponge, learn from someone, anyone I know who knew something, I would go sit and learn from them. So, I became quite an integrated holistic development person.
And then I discovered one thing and said, you know, the spiritual dimension. I am involved in the spiritual but not in the place where I'm working. It's at home when I do outreach work to students. So my wife and I had come to the Lord through the student ministry, you know, the youth camp. And so, I thought that same way, keep that spiritual side and then this is the empirical or the physical side. But they were from two different places. And I started wondering, can they be in the same place? In the same place, word and deed, because that's the way Jesus did His ministry? And as I started praying, God created this discontent in my heart that made me want to learn more and search for an organization. So, it was a deep sense of discontent. I was so excited that I would say, meeting up with chief ministers and governors and top people, they're coming here to see the programs that we have developed. And I'm sensing this discontent with where I am. And then I ended up joining International Christian Organization that was doing the same thing, word and deed, integrated empirical and spiritual development.
And so, that's where I took that second journey, moving out from where I was, going down south. And we're from the south, but it was like an alien place to me, because I'd spent most of my life up north in India. And if you are familiar with India, they're culturally so different from the north to the south. We went there and I started with this organization, first in India, looking after through all of Eastern India, then all of Western India. And then God took us to Cambodia, then as head of operations in that organization for Cambodia. And then from there, we went to China, mainland China, and then back from mainland China to Cambodia. This time, we're working with huge organizations. One is called the Asian Development Bank, that's like the World Bank, working only in Asia, and the United Nations Development Program. So I got this opportunity to see different kinds of approaches. Because the UNDP focuses more on infrastructure. Asian Development Bank focuses more in economics, and macroeconomics.
So, got to see all those exposures. And then at the right time, God brought us to the US. And that was a different journey. First time, they were looking for someone to head all their programs around the world. And a recruiter found me and introduced me to them. And so, then we made the move to Atlanta first. And then God took us from Atlanta to Texas, and brought us to where we are now in California. Medical Ambassadors was looking for a person to head the organization as president. And they invited me in actually late 2016, early 2017. And mid-2017, I took over as president. So it's been an exciting time here. Because I saw, after I came here, that 20 years before that I had trained some of their people. And I had wondered where, you know, what are they doing? Where are they? I get called to head that same organization.
Many of the participatory tools that I had developed, like one called the "10- seed technique", there's one called the "holistic worldview analysis". There's one called "household food security status assessment". So these tools, which you can find on my website, were things that I had passed on to Medical Ambassadors 20 plus years ago, and now I was heading this organization. As I came in here, the organization hadn't grown in several years, it was struggling for funding. And so my challenge was to help it grow, to increase its revenue, to bring innovative programs. And by the grace of God, we've been able to do all that. So we're now in the top 10 organizations in the world with a high return on investment for the kingdom of God. And just three days ago, I got a message saying that we got it for the fifth year, so 2017, '18, '19, '20, '21. And you can find the report of that on our website on the homepage. It's called ROI Ministry, return on investment for the kingdom of God.
DC: That's great. I'd love to dive into what does Medical Ambassadors do? Who do they serve? And how do they do it?
RJ: So, Medical Ambassadors works with marginalized communities around the world. We work in 75 countries, we work in 2674 communities. I know that because I just studied the latest report, 2674 communities, a community is between 800 and 1200 people. So we impact 2.98 million people around the world. So, we work right across the world, in eight regions. So starting from the Far East, to South Asia, to Africa, East to West, Central and South Asia, and then coming down to the Middle East, North Africa region. And then Latin America, the Caribbean, these are the areas where we work. And so we're now in a place where not only we have established ourselves and stabilized. We're ready to grow. So we want to grow further up into northeast Asia, we want to grow in Middle East, North Africa, we want to go all the way down the Caribbean, right up to the northern part of South America. And so our typical strategy for working is, we believe, and this is what just amazes me.
It's not going to a community and telling them what they should do, what I think their priority should be, which is what God had taught me through that man, you know, coming in telling me. To change that mode to what has it, that is your greatest need. And let's work together. I'm not here like, you know, the big boss to hand out something. But we are here to sit as equals, and figure it out together. And you own it right from the beginning. So you lead it, you own it, we will bring in new understanding and support as needed. And that's how we operate. So that's what we do.
DC: In what ways do you serve marginalized communities? Is it all medical, because your name is Medical Ambassadors?
RJ: So, yes, that can be a little bit of a misnomer. Because that's how we started. Forty-two years ago, when we started, we were only sending doctors and nurses to treat patients. And then we would treat them and then we'd come back three months, six months later, and treat them again. And then somebody went into details to understand how we're doing it. And he said, listen, you're treating the same person for the same thing again. You need to do something about preventing the condition by changing the place where they are. If the environment doesn't change, they're going to be sick again. And it's not making sense for you to send people from here, even the best doctors in the world. But they go there for 10 days, and they come back. And then there's a gap between the next time so that treatment needs to be done locally. So, we started listening. And so, they started looking for people that could take over the treatment locally, equip them well, build their hospitals, bring better equipment, and then focus on prevention. So we went from providing services to the prevention of diseases.
And then people started coming to us the community because now we're totally listening to them. The community said, hey, we prevented disease. Now we're not getting so sick, but tell us how to survive. Tell us how to thrive. So, we started bringing in integrated development. So that was the third state, provision, prevention, integration. And in the integration phase, we started this and we started calling it Community Health Evangelism (CHE). That's our tool, Community Health Evangelism, or community health education, but everything is health. So that's how it's, you know, everything's health. At one stage, we said, when we came to that stage, we said, hey, we're not really medical doctors anymore. We're doing this integrated community development program. Do you see the parallel God's preparation in my life was the same integrated community development? Not animal husbandry, which you think is most important but what they think is most important. So, we came into that. And once that element came for us, we started adding new things. Every time we learned something, we added it. And at this point of time, we have some 10,000 lesson plans, covering everything from mushroom cultivation, to chicken rearing, to rabbit rearing, goat rearing, you know, the whole range of things, very simple lessons that you can learn and follow and do it yourself. So, in a community, any community needs about 14 or 15 different things. But we have a full span of 10,000 options to choose from, because the environments in which we work are very, very varied, from snowy places to deserts.
DC: Right, different needs in different communities.
RJ: Different needs, but 14, 15 things that need to be done. So, the approach that we have is very interesting. And you will find on our website, www.medicalambassadors.org. A lot of short videos that you can watch, that talks about what is CHE, even talks about our journey, how we reached where we are, and it shows some of these tools that can be used. So, what we do is we have a group of people who are the leaders, eight to 12 people are the team leaders in the community, their own community village leaders, and they run the whole program. So first, we work with them. We train them. And then we say, do you want to see this kind of change? We do. Okay, each one choose one person whom you really trust, and who you can monitor. So let's say average of 10 leaders, 10 volunteers, then these volunteers start reaching out. An outside person comes and trains them every week. Whatever they learn, they teach others. So each person trains 15 in the course of a year. Whatever they learned, they practice, they train, they practice, they train.
DC: So, the whole community is being transformed by education.
RJ: Surely. Yeah, by the end of a year, in the initial stage, you only had these 20 people, the leaders and the volunteers, the next year, you got 10 times 15, a 150. And they're practicing whatever they learn. So, you see water, the water is dirty, you need a filter. That's how we make a filter using pebbles, and you know, sand and charcoal, and the water is clean. So, they make one for themselves. But every lesson also has a spiritual component. So, we have seen in our lives, there's no filter for that but the blood of Christ cleanses us from all the unrighteousness. So, that's how they begin to learn the lesson. So, everything is word and deed, integrated.
And so as they begin to listen, learn, follow, teach. Teaching is the best way to learn. It goes on multiplying. The next year, now you got the 10 leaders, you got the 10 volunteers, and you got 150 trained volunteers. And each of them trains another five. So, the first year 2%, second year 15%, third year 75%, fourth year, 100% know about CHE. And what we've seen is when word and deed come together, it brings life transformation. So a lot of people come to know the Lord we encourage them to meet in a worshipping group. And we follow what is called the duckling principle, which is, you know, you've seen a duck and the ducklings following the mother. If the mother turns to the right, the first one turns, the next one like a train behind. So, the first duckling and the second duckling, to be a leader, the first duckling needs to be one step ahead of the second. So, that's how, whatever you learn you teach, teaching helps you to remember. But teaching helps you to multiply. So that's how it multiplies. And then, it's low cost.
DC: I'm curious, how far, what can a US dollar do in that situation? How far can it go?
RJ: Let me tell you from the 2020 report. One of the statements they had, and that was every $1,000 that you invest in Medical Ambassadors impacts 1,032 people.
DC: Wow. That's amazing.
RJ: It's actually 97 cents per person per year is the impact cost that translates to 1,032. And we had an interesting thing, I was talking at a conference recently, a fundraiser. And unknown to me, there was a father and his son there. And the son had been told by the father, that five organizations are going to present at this event. Okay, I'm giving you $1,000. You decide how you want to give it. As part of his training also, right? He's homeschooled, 12 years old. And so he listened to all the five. Now, if I had known he was sitting there listening along with other people, I would have been a little worried about what I'm saying. Something that my wife Vimla said to me as I was preparing, I said, you know, it's so complex, you're talking to 75 people. You're talking along with other organizations, one is working with equines and helping and healing. That sounds more exciting than what we're talking about. How do we compete? And my wife said, all you can do is do your best, and trust God to do the rest. Well, sitting in this room, this guy is listening. And I had put in this statement there, every $1,000 invested in Medical Ambassadors impacts 1,032 people. And as soon as he saw that, he turned to his dad, and he said, that's where I want to put my money. So, it was, I mean, you know, it was a $1,000. We need a lot more than $1,000. But, you know, it was just such a reminder that God loves, God cares, God is taking care of our ministry.
DC: Yeah. And that pure act of generosity, it's so, it is unfettered. It's just beautiful.
RJ: Yeah. So men, and you know, that's the challenge for your listeners who are listening, how can you know, sometimes, some are called to go. I had all the time after I came to the Lord, tell him when you're ready, when you want me to go, I'm ready to go. But he kept me waiting for a long time before he moved me from secular work to mission work. And he was preparing me. Often, people come and say, you know, how can we help? What can we do? And I tell them there are three things you can do. One is you can pray for us. Keep us in your prayers. We have a prayer ambassadors list that goes out with prayer requests. You can go to our website and register to get the prayer requests list, in our newsletter, monthly newsletter.
DW: What is the website?
DW: www.medical ambassadors.org. And then you can register to start getting our newsletter and our prayer letter. So, the first thing is you can be praying for us. The second is you can volunteer. If you're close by to one of our projects, or if you're close here to our office in Salida, California, then you can come and you can volunteer. There are several tasks that we have that we use volunteers to do. And then of course, there is you can be generous in your giving. And, you know, the safest way to make your money secure is to invest it in God's kingdom. And, you know, and Jesus said that to you know, where your money is there will your heart be also. And there's no moth and no insect that can damage it. Your property is safe in God's kingdom.
So I always tell people, you know, learn about different organizations, what are they doing, are they building God's kingdom? Or they're not building it? And you are responsible for where you give your money because you want to put it where there is a highest return on investment for God's kingdom. And so, do that, pray. When you find a need, you hear someone talk, ask the Lord, because he will tell you very clearly, this is the place where I want you to invest in making them. So, do that. And we'd love to be partners with you on that. So, sometimes we can go, sometimes we can give but all the time we can pray.
DC: In your experience, Ravi, what's the key to someone growing in generosity?
RJ: Yeah, so, for instance, this very same, you know, this pitch I made just two weeks ago. And it's easy for us to get into a place where we think no, we need, you know, we don't have enough to give, we need someone to give for us. And so, in the evening when I went back to my hotel, I was looking at the list of organizations. And God just reminded me, give, and it will be given back. Okay, so I said, okay, I'm gonna give, and then it was like, you're not going to give to yourself, not to your own organization. Give it to the other four who are there, not yourself. Give it to the other four. And I shared that with my wife. She said, no problem, give. And then she saw the amount, she said, that's going to hurt but give. And I just gave it. And that evening, I got a call, late in the evening, got a call from the organizer. And he said, hey, you know what, your organization received so much. So give, and it will be given back. Pressed down, shaken together, overflowing. It's an amazing, amazing thing. God is a generous God. And he calls us, as his children, he calls us to be generous too.
DW: So Ravi, to really land the plane. And as we come to a close here, at the end of the episode, would you maybe share a story of just maybe one person that was impacted by the organization and give some details and really kind of help us to zoom in because we talked really, really high level, but then, you know, there's, you know, $1,000 will impact over a thousand people? What does it look like for that one person to be impacted? Do you have a story maybe that you could share?
RJ: Yeah, sure. Sure. Let me share a story from Cambodia. Unknown to me, I was also invited several years ago, to be the lead evaluator. So when you do an evaluation of a project that's come to an end, you have an external evaluator who is not connected to the project and who leads it to make sure it's impersonal and all the data is, you know, nonsubjective, and then we are calculating what we call sort of a study cap. You know, we say you do a study, and then you do a non-study area, and you see the results. So, I had seen the results of this project, and it seemed a little too big to be true. You know, a lot of transformation and in Cambodia, where people are coming to the Lord and I was like, okay, I'm ready to do this evaluation. So we went there, we studied 65 villages. We didn't go to all of them, we randomly picked villages that we would go and we went real deep into understanding it.
It was interesting to see the change, we could see visual change. There was attitude change, that was behavior change. There was obviously health change and a reduction in malnutrition. There was a clear reduction in poverty and an increase in flourishing. They even had security for, you know, they had rice banks. So when they had the harvest each family brought some to put into the rice bank and the rice bank was only for their people. And anyone who ran short of food could go there, borrow and then return a little bit more so the rice bank kept growing and we're seeing that. Now, I asked one of the ladies, just sitting with her, I could speak Khmer at that time and I said, you know, what's your name? (Khmer for "What's your name?") and she said Samat. That's her name Samat. I said, looking around this village, all the changes that have taken place. Medical Ambassadors is a partner with the CHE program here and is helping in this place.
What is the biggest change that has happened in your community? And she said, we name our children as soon as they are born. And I said, wow, because what I knew was that in the communities where children die, they don't name them till they're five years old. Till they form, you know, get through the major milestones. If they reach the age of five, then they name them because the name is given based on an ancestor. And if you give a name to a child who dies, then the ancestors' anger will be on them. So, these people had come to know the Lord, their lives had become better, there was, you know, better health, better nutrition, better prosperity, you know, they didn't become rich but they were definitely not extremely poor. But she could say that I can name my child. That when a child is born earlier, they would not even celebrate a child being born because who knows if this child will reach five years? So, you see that that is transformation. That is transformation. And you know, where you hear in the native language people worshipping and praising God. That is transformation.
DC: That's beautiful. That's very deep roots that the ministry has helped the whole community.
RJ: You know, in that photograph, the CHE volunteer is there. You know, I told you about how the volunteers are there. Volunteers may be men or women. And that simple woman from that village, who learned something and taught someone, that Samat taught her how to make her house, a safe house for her kids. Better water, better sanitation, ensuring vaccination for their kids. All of those things bring transformation. And we have 52, let me give you the actual figure 52,442 such volunteers. So every community has 20 at least. So that's the first the leaders and the volunteers times 2,674. You can imagine how many. In some communities, more and more people are active. So, that's transformation. Anyone partnering with us, that's what they're investing in, seeing the kingdom come into individuals, into families and into a whole village.
DC: That's beautiful. Ravi, we, in our podcasts, we like to have a fire round, where we speed through a couple of questions we call the mentor minute.
RJ: Okay, sure.
DC: Ravi, who is one of the most influential people, you know, and how have they impacted you?
RJ: Living or dead?
RJ: Gandhi, for sure. You know, most people don't know that Gandhi came to the Lord at the end of his life. He tried to live his life based on the Sermon on the Mount. He always had a bible with him. He would read it extensively. One of his closest friend was CF Andrews who was a missionary. So, the more I learned because I learned from my first boss, things that Gandhi did. That was just amazingly influential.
DC: That's neat. God really used him. What book or podcast has changed the course of your life.
RJ: I would say the several books, several books. Personal stories like, you know, Andrew, Brother Andrew's "God’s Smuggler". "The Cross and The Switchblade", David Wilkerson. “Run Baby Run”, Nicky Cruz. So, personal stories are very important for me. Where there was this crucial minute and turn people around. That's very, very important for me.
DC: Okay. What's the greatest lesson you have learned about leadership?
RJ: Not to be afraid to say I'm sorry. Sometimes, the Lord will help us, cause us or allow us to fail in the area of our strength before strengthening us in the area of our failure. I saw him do that with Peter. You know, Peter had seen the risen Lord and then he said, I'm going fishing. And Jesus had to let him try fishing the whole night. And then he said, put the net on the other side and immediately knew it was Jesus. And then, he transformed him. So, at those crucial stages in our life when God brings transformation, it also means a new direction. Because then he was taking this guy who is a fisherman who knew how to trick the fish, to tend to the sheep. And it was almost like he was saying when he kept asking him three times, do you love me? What he was trying to say to him was, with three and a half years you watched me, what was I? A shepherd. And then I like to play a trick on people sometimes, you know, that's in John 21. And I say to some people, turn to John chapter 22, and some actually turn, like, there's no John 22 and I say yes, that's because all of Acts of the Apostles is John chapter 22, of what happened when he did what God wanted him to do. And that's the change I've seen in my life. When I tried to do what I thought I knew people needed, it didn't work. When I sat down, open-handed, open, clean slate, to listen, God granted transformation.
DC: God's strength is made perfect in our weakness, right?
RJ: Exactly. Exactly.
DC: The last question, is there anything we or the listeners can do to to help you accomplish your vision? And how can we pray for you and your family?
RJ: Yeah, so I just mentioned those three things, pray for us. Pray for the organization. Several of our people are in dangerous places. Nigeria is a very dangerous place. We've seen some of our staff get killed over there. So just keep us in prayer. Pray for God to set the wall of fire around our teams. Volunteer with us, if you are close by, and you can donate and find us. These are straight away three things that you can do. For me and my family, keep us in your prayer. You know, in places of leadership, the devil is always trying to punch you. Pray for our strength, and our calling so that we don't get discouraged as we move forward.
DC: Okay. We will. Daniel, would you mind closing us in prayer today?
DW: Yes, let's pray. God, I thank you and praise you for Ravi and all he and his family have done for the Kingdom. God, I thank you for his obedience to your call. And we thank you for your guidance in his life throughout all the different places that you've been and what you have done through it. God, I pray for Medical Ambassadors International, that you would protect and watch over the staff and the volunteers, that they would bring life change, that they would bring the love of Jesus to these vulnerable people, and that we get to see them impacted for your kingdom. God, we thank you and praise you for all that we've learned on this call. And we pray that you would continue to invite people into what you're doing around the world. In Christ's name I pray.
RJ: Amen. Amen. Thank you guys. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share.
DC: We really appreciate having you on. Thank you for your time today.
DW: And thank you guys for listening and we'll see you next time for another episode of the kingdom investor.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
ANNNOUNCER: What if you could take your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives in your community and around the world, creating a godly legacy for generations to come?
Now you can. Your first step is crafting your kingdom investing thesis. Reserve your spot in our next online workshop where we guide you through the process of discovering your passions, create a strategic plan and connect you to opportunities that will help you fulfill your God-given calling as a kingdom investor. Register today by clicking the link in the show notes.
Thanks for listening. Don't forget to subscribe and we'll see you next time for another episode of The Kingdom Investor Podcast.